Desire as Downfall (Hamlet Essay)

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DESIRE AS DOWNFALL Human nature is prone to desire. Everyone, on some level, has lusts and cravings for things, along with an inclination to satisfy this hunger. If this hunger becomes strong enough, however, it can continually preoccupy a person’s mind, and greatly manipulate him or her. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, King Claudius is burdened with a desire for power. His deep-longing to gain the Crown of Denmark, and thereafter, hold on to the Crown, influences him to sacrifice his morals, his authenticity, and the opportunity for true love. Claudius’ desire for power becomes an all-consuming obsession, causing him to ignore the other aspects of life, including those that are the most important. Living in a religious society, Claudius, as a nobleman, believes in God and Afterlife. He is fully aware of Christian ethics and knows that he must pursue a virtuous life in order to be worthy of Heaven. He believes that by acting sinfully and refusing to confess, he will be sent to Hell. Despite the risk of eternal damnation, Claudius acts immorally to gain power. Specifically, Claudius kills his own brother, King Hamlet, in order to become King himself. Even though he feels guilty for his sinful act, he does not take the opportunity to confess, for fear of losing the Crown. While in the chapel, he says, “My fault is past, But, O, what form of prayer/Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive my foul murder’?/That cannot be, since I am still possess’d/Of those effects for which did the murder” (Act III, Scene III, Lines 52-54). Here, Claudius realizes that repenting for his action may hinder his Kingship. He loses his inclination to do what is right and to follow his Christian beliefs, simply because it may cause him to be less powerful. Therefore, Claudius’ pursuit of power causes him to neglect his morals. Going to Heaven may be important to him, but clearly, having is more significant.

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